Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Parents . . . Pick Your Battles

When law enforcement or military personnel get into a firefight, they usually take time to assess both the enemy and how much ammunition they have. While on television the heroes often unload their guns on the bad guys, that is not always wise. Sometimes you need to save your ammunition and as we say pick your battles. The wise fighter decides quickly how much attention they are going to give to the potential threats around them.

Parents must do something similar at home. Yes, parenting can seem like a battle or war at times but I want to think a bit more practically. There are actions, responses and other things that bother us from our children that we could fight against and expend all sorts of energy on, but wise parents fight the most important ones.  Somet things just aren't that big of a deal.

For example, is that clothing choice your eight-year-old made worth fighting over?  How about the toy your three-year-old wants to bring in the car or the friend your teen would like to take to the mall with you?

You see, there are usually bigger things to fight for or about and that's where our attention needs to be as we make our decisions concerning our kids' choices.

Let me suggest a few.

Is their choice immoral or dangerous?
Are they responding to you disrespectfully?
Are you being played against the other spouse?
Has this decision already been made in previous discussions?  (Like bedtime, watching a certain kind of movie, etc.)
Is this a watershed moment where you need to make or reinforce a point?

If the answer is "yes" to any of these or other similar questions then start "shooting" your parental bullets and be sure you win the battle.

But there are some things you can do that will help the battle keep from unnecessarily escalating.  First, give them choices when you can.

Second, speak firmly but nonchalantly. You don't have to shout to get them to make a better choice.

Third, hold your ground. Only make "threats" you're willing to keep.

Yes, at times parenting will seem like a war but we can help keep it civil and with minimal friendly fire if we'll just pick and choose when it comes to which skirmish we're going to face head on.

Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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